Music professors named semifinalists for national American Prize for Composition

File Under: Academic Excellence

Two Malone professors of Music and composers have been named semifinalists for the national American Prize for Composition. 

Jesse Ayers’ two works are Beneath Suspicion (for two sopranos and piano) in the Opera/Theater/Film/Dance category, and There's a Stirrin' in the Water, co-written with Charles Myricks, Jr., (for orchestra and chorus) in the Choral category. Ayers won the American Prize for Orchestral Composition in 2011. 

Jack Ballard’s composition is El Corazón (3rd Movement of Symphony No. 5) in the Orchestra division. 

“It came as a complete surprise to me, and more so when I heard Dr. Ayers had been selected as well,” said Ballard. “I feel blessed to be in a department with such supportive faculty, not to mention an equally supportive composition colleague whose philosophies are so close to mine.” 

Having professors of this caliber greatly enhances the education of student musicians. 

“Malone music students are having a distinct advantage to work directly with living composers, an opportunity many musicians never have,” said Ayers. “Last year, Malone Opera Theater premiered two works, one by Jack and the other by me, with Jack and I working directly with the students in rehearsals. Also last year, Malone music students received special permission to attend a dress rehearsal of the Akron Symphony and meet with the conductor when Akron was premiering a big work they had commissioned from me. Both Jack and I watch for opportunities to leverage the recognition we receive to benefit our students.”

The American Prize is a series of new, non-profit national competitions in the performing arts providing cash awards, professional adjudication and regional, national and international recognition for the best recorded performances by ensembles and individuals each year in the United States at the professional, college/university, church, community and secondary school levels. Administered by Hat City Music Theater, Inc., a nonprofit organization based in Danbury, Connecticut, The American Prize was founded in 2009 and is awarded annually.